by Wolfram Koch, Max C. Holthausen
It is a truism that in the past decade density functional theory has made its way from a peripheral position in quantum chemistry to center stage. Of course the often excellent accuracy of the DFT based methods has provided the primary driving force of this development. When one adds to this the computational economy of the calculations, the choice for DFT appears natural and practical. So DFT has conquered the rational minds of the quantum chemists and computational chemists, but has it also won their hearts? To many, the success of DFT appeared somewhat miraculous, and maybe even unjust and unjustified. Unjust in view of the easy achievement of accuracy that was so hard to come by in the wave function based methods. And unjustified it appeared to those who doubted the soundness of the theoretical foundations. There has been misunderstanding concerning the status of the one-determinantal approach of Kohn and Sham, which superficially appeared to preclude the incorporation of correlation effects. There has been uneasiness about the molecular orbitals of the Kohn-Sham model, which chemists used qualitatively as they always have used orbitals but which in the physics literature were sometimes denoted as mathematical constructs devoid of physical (let alone chemical) meaning.